How Being a Mother Taught Me to be a Great Research Administrator

by on Thursday, May 31, 2018

Authored by:
Maureen Wawsczyk
Research Integrity & Compliance Officer
Ferris State University



As a working mother, I feel very fortunate to be in the field of research administration. Working on the compliance side of research administration, I am not often overwhelmed with deadlines and late proposals that so many must manage – yay! Instead, my time is mostly spent overseeing the Institutional Review Board and developing processes and procedures at our primarily undergraduate institution.

While research is not the lifeblood of our organization, we do have faculty that are pursing federal and state grant opportunities. Like my child, our office is growing – and the majority of my time with each is on growth development. I must admit, that while my two-year-old seems to learn something new each month and time flies with him, growth at work can be a little more slow and painful. Becoming a mother has helped me to see that patience and understanding are necessary in each of my roles. Change is not always welcome and can be difficult. Remaining calm, whether it be during a meltdown my son is having over dinner, or with faculty that are alarmed about the impact of the Revised Common Rule regulations, cannot be undervalued. Sometimes, all that is needed is a deep breath and some compassion – in both situations.

Since having my son, I’ve also come to appreciate the importance of schedules and sticking to routines while understanding the value of remaining flexible. While keeping my son on his regular nap and sleep schedule are ideal, it is not always possible. Likewise, with the Common Rule it would be nice to know if July of this year will be the effective date so that we can plan and inform accordingly, but if we find out it has been postponed yet again, we will adjust. Although the world of parenting at home and ensuring that compliance is met at work are two vastly separate tasks in my life, upon reflection they correlate and lessons can be learned and applied to each.